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Lebanon

In ancient times, the area was one of the cradles of wine culture (see also under Mesopotamia). Part of it belonged to the Canaan of the Israelites described in the Bible. The northern part belonged to Phoenicia, which also included coastal sections of present-day Syria. Numerous Phoenician city-states arose in the core area on the Mediterranean coast and also far beyond it. The most important within the present-day borders of Lebanon were Berytos (Beirut), Byblos (Djebeil), Sidon (Sayda) and Tyros (Sur). The Phoenicians ruled here under the temporary strong influence of Egypt and Assyria from the 3rd millennium until the conquest by Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) in 330 B.C. According to excavations in Byblos, there was a viticultural culture here as early as 5,000 years ago. In Baalbek (Greek Heliopolis), today's wine-growing centre of Lebanon in the Bekaa Valley, stands the temple to the wine god Bacchus, built in the 2nd century AD. Over the centuries, there has been a turbulent history with constantly changing Christian and Islamic domains.

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